“You were bought with a price; stop becoming slaves of men.”
~1 Corinthians 7:23
As Christians we should be careful that our bad budgeting or overspending on nonessential things does not lead us to high debt.
The Greek word for slave is also the word for servant (“dou’los”).
In ancient Israel, a person could legally sell himself into slavery if he incurred debt that he could not otherwise pay off. (Lev. 25:39)
While some debt may be unavoidable, especially in emergency situations, mismanaging our finances can sadly lead to putting work interests before spiritual needs.
Time we used to spend in the ministry or in deep study of God’s Word could be derailed to furthering our company’s success.
Even if we are not missing meetings, our workload may leave us too tired to want to do more for Jehovah.
Jesus advised his followers to have faith and not worry excessively beyond the food and shelter of today. (Matt. 6:31-34)
“This is why every loyal one will pray to you
While you may yet be found.”
Who does God consider to be a “loyal one”?
The previous verse is referring to someone who confesses their sins to God and whom God pardons (Psalm 32:5).
Since we are all imperfect sinners, to remain close to Him I must first recognize and value the extent of His mercy and kindness toward me.
If I trust in Jehovah, He will ‘surround me with His loyal love’ and, despite my errors, I will be able to rejoice joyfully among the righteous (Psalm 32:10,11).
In effect, it is possible for God to consider us, mere sinners, as being “upright in heart,” so long as we do not try to deceive Him.
And when we recognize the immense value of this, we may even find happiness (Psalm 32:1,2).
“You wrongdoers try to frustrate the plans of the lowly one,
But Jehovah is his refuge.”
Should we find that we will not be able to reach the goals we have set for ourselves in God’s service, we should not become discouraged.
Circumstances change and no one has full control over their own situation.
Not only are we susceptible to our own sinful inclinations, but we may find ourselves to be victims of the wrongdoings of others (Rom. 3:23).
While these factors may have a negative impact in our service to God, they do not impede our being loyal to Him.
Therefore we should continue serving God zealously alongside His congregation to our fullest capacity, because He will continue being our Protector, giving us all we need to be happy (Ps. 37:28; Ps. 145:16; Heb. 6:10-12).
“Do not feel sad, for the joy of Jehovah is your stronghold.”
This verse has personally been one of the cornerstones of my faith.
But why did the audience feel sad to begin with?
“All the people were weeping as they heard the words of the Law,” (Neh. 8:9).
It was the month of Ethanim (mid-September to mid-October), the start of the Jewish agricultural year, a month that marks many biblical historically relevant events.
It was a month of festivals.
This day started out with special trumpet blasts announcing a holy convention (Lev. 23:24).
The Jews in Jerusalem had but a few days earlier, against all odds, completed rebuilding the city walls (Neh. 6:15).
True worship was finally and officially ready to go fully back into effect.
When the scribe Ezra read the book of the law, and the Levites explained it, the people took it to heart (Neh. 8:2,3,7,8).
They understood what Jehovah was trying to tell them.
They were compelled to tears of sadness because of the errors of their ways.
But understanding God’s word was reason to rejoice, not cry.
The Levites helped them to correct their attitude, “so all the people went away to eat and to drink and to send out portions of food and to carry on a great rejoicing, for they understood the words that had been made known to them,” (Neh. 8:12).
When I personally experience sadness, do I make Jehovah’s joy my stronghold?
Understanding his word and serving him are not small reasons to rejoice in.
It is a beautiful privilege to form part of God’s people.
There is no better place to seek refuge than in the stronghold of the “happy God,” (1 Tim. 1:11; Ps. 16:11).